When you feel vulnerable, sad, or need to get it out, I’d encourage you to release your worries in a free-form journaling exercise. When we confront our thoughts in this way, we can observe their meaning, see their truth and absurdity, and neutralize the emotions, and it often allows the fear to dissipate in a weird and wonderful way.
My Grandpa is 87 years old.
Born in 1933, he was a baby of the Great Depression and a child of World World 2.
He’s hoarded food, supplies, and nostalgia my entire life.
A few months ago, my twins were presenting to their school board in Mandarin.
That night, a classmate’s parent told me about a way that descendants of Spanish nationals could get a Spanish passport.
My first thought was, “Oh, Thank God. Finally, Plan B.”
My brother and sister-in-law have a second home in Ireland and are there right now.
They are weighing coming home, to the country where everyone they love lives, with what they would be walking into and what will happen next.
I wrote a post in October 2019 outlining my goal to get in 450 spin classes before my 45th birthday.
I reverse-engineered my target by backing into the date, scheduling my workouts, getting clarity about my why, and anticipating anything that could derail me.
Still, even with the best plans, stuff happens. The schools could cancel for weather conditions. Someone in our family could get the flu. Who knows? I can’t plan for everything — I don’t believe in preparing for worst-case scenarios — but I can anticipate what will get in my way and make allowances. That may mean squeezing in a double here or there or giving myself a break if I need one.
This week, I rode my bicycle outdoors with my family instead. I pushed the twins to do 8 miles when I knew it was too much for them.
Why did I push them?
When I wrote that post about spin class, I wouldn’t share my why. It was too personal, and it still is, but the world has changed since then.
There are many reasons I’ve been working out like a fiend since June 2018.
It started innocently enough. I was transitioning careers and wanted to feel more confident in my body, my 10th wedding anniversary was approaching, and I wanted to wow my husband.
My kids were starting to be independent, and I wanted to reclaim my stamina and strength for them (and couldn’t claim “baby weight” anymore). And, we were taking a big trip, and I wanted to look back on the photos without regret.
But something else was going on too. The border thing was escalating.
Trump, funding, detention centers, families torn apart, and horror stories, were everywhere.
Sometimes I’d have nightmares about fleeing to Canada and carrying our three babies for miles and miles. That’s all the dreams were ever about, running and walking for miles and miles.
Sometimes I’d have the stroller; sometimes, my husband would be there. Sometimes I’d have the baby in the backpack; sometimes, the dog would be there. Sometimes I’d see other families too, but it was almost always dark.
I’d push our kids past their physical and mental limits, and when they couldn’t go on, I’d carry them.
Now I know they can ride their bikes for 8 miles. They did it yesterday. I pushed them because I needed to know how far they could go in an emergency. And then I thought, “Eight miles is not enough, but it’s something.”
How messed up is that?
After these nightmares, I’d wake up breathing hard and sweating, and I’d go straight to morning spin class.
Those were the days I’d achieve a record calorie-burn or win a sprint.
I hear advocates for the wall shouting “keep them out,” and I keep thinking, what if it was you? What if what you were fleeing was so awful that you knew your family wouldn’t survive intact, and you went anyway?
What if you needed to escape?
I’d get so angry, and I don’t want to be angry. I don’t want to be scared. So I go to spin class until I feel better. It always works.
But the gyms are closed now.
I didn’t even tell my husband about my dreams because I thought I was so broken.
Maybe it was because in high school when the Berlin wall came down, I was traumatized. The imagery, the reunions, the emotions, the danger, left an impression.
Then and now, it seems evident that when you erect a wall, some feel protected, and others are trapped.
What about those who are trapped?
Right now, Americans feel trapped. We aren’t handling it well, and it’s not even that bad.
Countries with the strongest laws and strictest punishments are those with histories of famine, warfare, natural disasters, and, yes, pathogen outbreaks. These disaster-prone nations have learned the hard way over centuries: Tight rules and order save lives.
Meanwhile, cultures that have faced few threats — such as the United States — have the luxury of remaining loose. They understandably prioritize freedom over constraint, and they are highly creative and open, but also more disorganized than their tight counterparts.
I, like many, was briefly obsessed with stories and literature set during the world wars. And being a young American, I couldn’t truly understand how it escalated so quickly: Why they couldn’t stop what was coming?
I didn’t understand why people didn’t flee, appreciate that they had nowhere to go, and no resources to get there.
Hurricane Katrina was the first time I started seeing it for what it was.
People’s ties to a place are real.
Bill Gates did a Ted Talk on pandemics in 2015 that could have been the playbook for how to prevent this. If only we had paid attention.
If only we were ahead of it now.
What will we do when there is no Bill Gates?
I started writing a post about how to work from home successfully. I’ve been remote for more than a decade and thought that sharing my insights might help those transitioning for the first time.
I’m desperate to be helpful, but I kept writing rebukes to the employers instead.
And then this came out.
When I walk the dog in the evening, I see other families having backyard parties.
The adults are still chatting on the patio with beers, while the children play in the grass.
Why are they not self-quarantining?
I help women tap into their ambition, so they can build a business that is fulfilling and lucrative, and design a lifestyle that is best for their families. It’s not an instant solution.
It takes time, and it isn’t easy.
The economic fallout from coronavirus is going to last for a very long time.
What will happen to the families?
For some parents, their jobs will go away and never come back. For others, they will be so changed by all of this: what they once thought was important will no longer matter to them.
What if my children grow up to hoard things?
Successful change requires a strong mental game, a plan, and resources.
Let’s start there.
I see the social media posts from moms diving deep into Pinterest, finding crafts, lessons, and diversions for their children. They are sharing free resources and linking to tips on remote learning and mitigating boredom.
I want to lose myself in wine and Pinterest too, but I’m too worried that it’s not what we should be paying attention to at all.
Someone we know, maybe even love, might die.
We’ve been given this incredible gift of time with our families, the people we love best. 24/7 time to surrender to all the emotions that are running high, to love our families with wild abandon, to study our children’s little faces, and hold their hands, and look away from screens, to talk and feel and be human.
Talk about what’s happening and what might happen and what we can do and what we can’t.
It’s a gift that others would kill for and may never come again.